Snow activity after-fun — Après-ski in Japan’s mountain towns
Speeding down the slopes is only half the fun of skiing and snowboarding in Japan. After a long day on the hill, enjoy some après-ski. While après-ski culture is less widespread in Japan than in the West, many major Japanese resorts are developing their entertainment, dining, and nightlife options.
The Niseko area, in Hokkaido, is famous for its cosmopolitan clubs, live music, gastropubs, bars, and high-end restaurants. Nagano's Hakuba Valley consists of multiple districts, each with a distinctive après-ski character. Head to the Mizuho area for traditional dining and outdoor onsen baths or Wadano and Echo Land for Western-style restaurants and English pubs with DJs spinning until the early hours of the morning. Nozawa Onsen — also in Nagano Prefecture — pairs a lively downtown area with 18 public hot springs. Other large resorts, such as Tomamu, Rusutsu, and Naeba, have massive base lodges that combine accommodation, dining, swimming, and nightlife in the same facility.
For a more traditional Japanese après-ski experience, try one of the country's many smaller resorts. Relax in a natural hot spring bath, treat yourself to a traditional dinner at your accommodation and rest up, readying yourself to conquer the slopes the next day. Alternatively, regional cities are, in most cases, within an hour drive away providing you with more varied restaurant, bar and sightseeing options.